Friday, January 11, 2008

To kiss or not to kiss?

Ever wonder whether that smooch you stole from your sweetheart made you sick? Actually, you're more likely to catch a cold or the flu when you shake someone's hand. People often put their fingers in their mouths without realizing it, then spread the virus by shaking someone's hand or making a dish for supper.

According to a recent report in the American Journal of Infection Control, practicing good handwashing habits at home, at work and elsewhere is the best way to keep germs from spreading. Experts say handwashing might even be our best defense against a flu pandemic. If you're not near a sink, a squeeze of alcohol-based hand sanitizer will do the trick. You can keep a small bottle handy in a jacket pocket or purse for when you eat out or wait in line at the store.

While handwashing is important to keep germs at bay, don't overlook your humdrum household chores. Regularly clean your kitchen counters, door and tap handles, toilet seats, sinks and bathtubs, as home hygiene matters, according to the report.

"Well, I don't want to be a neat freak," you might say to all this. You've even heard talk about how being "too clean" is not great for your immune system. But when it comes to protecting the family from getting sick, the report researchers recommend a targeted approach to home hygiene: Focus on the key routes for the spread of harmful germs while leaving other organisms in the environment unharmed.

So don't forget to wash your hands, but thoroughly (or it doesn't count)!

Photo courtesy of iStockphoto

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